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First-principles study of the T center in silicon


The T center in silicon is a well-known carbon-based color center that has been recently considered for quantum technology applications. Using first-principles computations, we show that the excited state is formed by a defect-bound exciton made of a localized defect state occupied by an electron to which a hole is bound. The localized state is of strong carbon p character and reminiscent of the localization of the unpaired electron in the ethyl radical molecule. The radiative lifetime for the defect-bound exciton is calculated to be on the order of microseconds, much longer than for other quantum defects such as the nitrogen vacancy center in diamond and in agreement with experiments. The longer lifetime is associated with the small transition dipole moment as a result of the very different nature of the localized and delocalized states forming the defect-bound exciton. Finally, we use first-principles calculations to assess the stability of the T center. We find the T center to be stable against decomposition into simpler defects when keeping the stoichiometry fixed. However, we identify that the T center is easily prone to (de)hydrogenation and so requires very precise annealing conditions (temperature and atmosphere) to be efficiently formed.

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